Fine engraving of the newly opened Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs in Roanoke, Virginia.
Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs was a 1200 acre resort, which opened in early 1858 and operated as a spa in the first half of the 19th Century and was later the site of the Catabwa Hospital. The Roanoke Red Sulphur Springs were located ten miles from the Salem depot of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, about seven miles from the town of Salem and southwest of the city of Roanoke. It was part of the spa tradition which thrived in Virginia during the period.
Edward Beyer was a German artist who traveled extensively in America, primarily in Virginia, between l848 and l857. He chose to concentrate his work on Virginia and Kentucky, spending three years in Virginia working on the original drawings for this book. The on-site paintings he created depict Virginia's great spas, cities and rural landscapes in the years just prior to the War Between the States. Upon his return to Germany Beyer's paintings were transformed into lithographs by Rau & Son in Dresden and Loeillot & Co. of Berlin. The result was The Album of Virginia; or the Old Dominion Illustrated . . . , published in l857. Although the titlepage asserts Richmond was the place of printing, the book was actually produced in Germany, with the plates being prepared in Dresden and the letterpress in Berlin.
The views include striking natural scenes, Harpers Ferry, White Sulphur Springs, railroad bridges and tunnels (e.g. Highbridge near Farmville), views in Weyer's Cave, and scenes at many of the fashionable resorts which were nestled amid the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Deak states that Bayer
was taken by the beauty of the Virginia landscape, particularly by the elegant settings of some of the region's watering places...Virginians responded warmly to Beyer's enterprise and often gave him advance access to architectural plans when these could be of help to him. There was probably no Virginia county that Beyer left unvisited in his zeal to present what is, in fact, an affectionate family album of an entire state.
Deak praises Beyer's "delicate and precise style" and "characteristic refinement of proportion." It is one of the foremost works of American scenery.